Ready to set off on your Iceland adventure? Make sure you’re all set for the trip of a lifetime with our ultimate Iceland packing list, providing you with all our top travel tips, Iceland outfit ideas, and a checklist of the best clothes to bring with you.
With Iceland’s famously changeable weather, planning your Iceland vacation properly becomes essential. It’s important to be prepared for every season and very different weather conditions than you’ll be used to at home. Although Iceland is known as the Land of Fire and Ice, let’s be real; there’s a lot of ice. Soak in the beautiful, otherworldly landscapes of Iceland in comfort by packing the right items for your trip – our comprehensive Iceland packing list will show you how!
How Do I Know What to Pack for Iceland?
Nothing ruins any trip faster than being cold and wet because you came without the right clothing. This is especially important in Iceland, due to the large amount of time you’re likely to be spending outside exploring the amazing natural spaces.
But fear not! If you know what to pack for Iceland, your trip will be a magical one. You can enjoy glacier hikes in Vatnajökull, bathe in hot springs somewhere in Landmannalaugar. Or maybe visit a volcanic craters such as Kerid crater, and all the other super cool things to do in this incredible country by getting your Iceland clothes sorted.
Here’s our ultimate packing list for Iceland to help you get prepared, along with some top tips on what to pack for Iceland during different seasons and the lowdown on the four-layer clothing rule.
Iceland Packing List
Stay comfortable, warm and dry with our ultimate Iceland packing list including everything you need. Check out the summer, fall, winter and spring packing tips below for extra things to consider based on the season.
You can modify this list based on the length of your trip. For example, if you’re coming to Iceland for a long weekend, you’ll only need a couple of shirts, rather than four or five if your trip is a week or longer. These are some of the basics we recommend packing to make the most of your time on this incredible island!
Two thermal shirts – These are a must for days out exploring or hiking, particularly in Iceland’s Highlands where the weather can be cooler. We recommend long-sleeved thermal shirts made from warm fabric, such as Merino wool.
Two light undershirts – Handy if you plan on hiking in Landmannalaugar or some of Iceland’s other beautiful natural parks, light undershirts will provide you with a layer of protection from the cold without causing you to overheat when the weather is warmer or when you’re walking.
Four or five thin T-shirts – Mix these T-shirts with your thermals and light undershirts, so you can remove layers as needed.
Fleece top – Useful as an additional layer, particularly when visiting in winter, a fleece top will keep you toasty and warm.
A couple of sweaters – Switch out the fleece top for sweaters if you prefer. Sweaters are an essential, no matter the time of year, as it will get chillier in the evenings.
Insulating layer or puffy coat – A thick coat will help protect your body, ensuring you can explore in comfort.
Waterproof and windproof jacket – This is one of the most important Iceland clothing items on this list! A sturdy jacket designed to protect you from the wind and rain will be invaluable during your time in Iceland, even if you visit in summer, and particularly if you’re venturing into the Highlands or more remote areas where the weather can change quickly. Trust us, you’ll be glad you brought this one along.
Sleeping mask if you come in the summer – As much as the midnight sun phenomenon is an incredible sight to behold, it can make sleeping more difficult in the summer months. Just make sure to bring along a sleeping mask and you’ll be all set!
Thermal leggings – A must for winter trips, thermal leggings will keep you warm in the cold season.
Pants or fleece-lined pants – Depending on the time of year, you’ll either need normal pants or fleece-lined pants. If you’re not sure, we recommend bringing one pair of fleece-lined pants along with your normal pants and you can always layer up if needed.
Your swimsuit – With the vast array of cleansing geothermal pools dotted around Iceland, your swimsuit is an essential item!
A towel – Another essential for visiting Iceland’s geothermal oases, we recommend bringing a microfiber towel for its lightness and quick-drying ability.
Flip flops – Flip flops for Iceland? Hear us out! These will be super useful if going to a spa or for after any outdoor swimming you plan to do while you’re drying.
A wool hat, insulated gloves and a scarf – Vital for winter, keep warm by wrapping up in your hat, gloves and scarf set.
Underwear and wool socks – Thermal underwear can come in handy for winter. Otherwise, you can bring normal underwear and layer up with pants, shirts, sweaters and jackets. Bring an extra pair of socks or two in case any get wet! Wool socks are a great idea for the colder months.
Refillable water bottle – Perfect for your days out adventuring, a refillable water bottle is a daily essential.
Sunglasses – Even during winter, sunglasses can come in handy, especially when visiting the bright white glaciers and ice lagoons!
If you’re planning to go camping in Iceland, you’ll need to add some extras to this list, such as a tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment, a torch and other camping essentials.
We recommend packing all of your belongings in a waterproof and sturdy travel luggage suitcase that can easily withstand the potential rainfall in Iceland, keeping your essentials dry.
Although it can be tempting to fit in as much as possible, it’s a good idea to leave some room in your suitcase for any Icelandic souvenirs you wish to bring home for yourself and your loved ones.
And if you discover you've forgotten something at home, don’t worry! Just head to the main shopping street in Iceland, Laugavegur Street, for some Reykjavik shopping.
Season by Season Iceland Packing List
Our season-by-season guide will help you evaluate the best time to visit Iceland and work out what extras to bring with you based on the season. Explore summer, fall, winter and spring Iceland packing tips below.
Iceland Summer Packing List
Iceland’s far northern latitude in the North Atlantic means that even warm summer days only hover in the high 50s (around 15 ºC). Just because you're doing summer packing doesn't mean that you can skimp on the extra long sleeve shirts or wool undergarments.
Your Iceland summer packing list needs to include everything from the four-layer rule (which we explain below), regardless of the time of year you visit. Summer could be sunny, but Iceland has also seen snow storms in June!
If you’re wondering what to wear in Iceland in July, we recommend sticking to a thinner base layer, such as a T-shirt, with warmer layers on top. This way, you can remove any clothing items you need to when it gets too hot, making sure you remain at a comfortable temperature. Clothing-wise, what to pack for Iceland in summer is quite similar to the other seasons, as you’ll still need warm layers, for the evenings especially.
Due to almost never-ending daylight in Iceland during the summer months, it's a good idea to bring a sleep mask if you plan on visiting Iceland in the summer.
Although the amazing midnight sun gives you lots of time to visit places like the South Coast or do extra stops on the Golden Circle route, you might have a hard time getting to sleep, unless you have really thick blackout curtains in your hotel room. A sleeping mask can solve this problem, allowing you to get your precious sleep ready for your next day of exploring!
Hiking boots are also a must for visiting places in the Highlands like Haifoss waterfall. This area of the country is closed during most of the year but opens up in the summer.
Sunglasses are recommended all year round but are particularly important in summer when driving or exploring a bright glacier or ice lagoon. Your Iceland packing list for June, July or August is not complete without insect repellent, especially handy when visiting any of Iceland’s lakes and streams.
Iceland Fall Packing List
When you're thinking about your Iceland packing list for September, it’s important to keep in mind that you are likely going to be outside at night. That's because the middle of September is when the Northern Lights season in Iceland begins. Bring along your binoculars, if you have any, for a prime view of the aurora borealis lighting up the sky!
Another important consideration for your Iceland fall packing list is that it tends to be especially rainy during this season, so a waterproof jacket is a must and an umbrella will serve you well. Make sure your shoes are sturdy and waterproof to keep them dry and warm.
If you arrive in Iceland during the darker fall months as winter approaches, you'll be able to do a Northern Lights hunt once you’ve picked up your ultra cool 4x4 rental in Reykjavik! Be sure to bring long-sleeved shirts and plenty of warm layers for the nighttime.
Winter Iceland Packing List
Icelandic winter typically arrives in November and lasts through March. The beautiful Northern Lights are on display throughout the cold, clear nights of the entire winter season. When thinking about what to bring to Iceland in winter, the cold weather activities here include things like joining a glacier hike tour, or trekking through ice caves.
Your Iceland packing list for November is likely to include more thick jumpers, a thick coat and plenty of pairs of woolen socks! We also recommend bringing some night socks to wear in bed and thick, long-sleeved pyjamas to keep you warm during sleep. A complete winter Iceland packing list will also include thermal base layers and underwear, snow boots, windproof gloves and hat, and a scarf.
Something that might surprise you about traveling to Iceland is that you can also visit hot springs at any time of year. People come to the Blue Lagoon and the Myvatn Nature Baths, as well as natural outdoor geothermal springs such as Reykjadalur hot springs or Landmannalaugar, at any time of year. Whether you come in the winter or the summer, make sure to pack your swimsuit, a microfiber towel, and if needed, flip-flops.
What to Pack for Iceland in the Spring
The spring months in Iceland tend to see slightly warmer temperatures than in the winter, but the chilly conditions still pretty much warrant the four types of layers outlined below.
So, your Iceland packing list for March, April and May should still include the long-sleeved base layers, fleeces and your insulating coat, but with more base layer T-shirts for some of the milder days.
As long as you bring a combination of the right types of clothes, you’ll be all set to enjoy some of the amazing things to do in Iceland in the springtime, such as exploring the fjords, visiting hot springs and hiking along waterfalls.
Iceland Road Trip Packing List
Planning on exploring Iceland by car? We’ve got a handy packing list guide for a road trip in Iceland, with all you’ll need to have a fantastic trip. May it be along the Golden Circle, Route 1 and F-roads, or everywhere around the island.
Iceland Outfits: What's the Four-Layer Rule?
Learn how to dress for maximum warmth and minimal moisture creeping in using the four-layer rule. Very handy for your trip to Iceland, the four-layer rule will serve you well during your time in this incredible country.
What are these four magic layers exactly?
Your base layer
A second layer
An insulation layer
The outer shell layer
Each layer serves a different purpose and requires a specific item of clothing. Let's break it down.
Your base layer is important for two reasons. Firstly, it traps your body heat, which is extremely important when facing Iceland's sometimes extreme temperatures. Secondly, it's going to absorb sweat and moisture from your skin, which will keep you dry.
Merino wool is a great material for this layer, as it’s high-quality and absorbs moisture well, keeping you warm and toasty. Definitely avoid cotton because it tends to get wet easily and stay wet, leaving you chilled to the bone – no, thank you!
The second layer is quite similar to your base layer. It's also important for retaining body heat and is great for those times when you need to stay warm but want to remove some layers. This could be another item of Merino wool, a fleece top, or a fleece-lined shirt or sweater. The key is that it retains heat and is breathable.
The third layer is an insulating layer. It's used to keep in all of your precious body heat that we've managed to keep under wraps with our first two layers.
A typical piece of clothing for this layer would be a puffy coat from brands like The North Face. Just make sure your insulating item is not made from down. That’s because down is a filler material that gets wet easily and takes forever to dry, which is not ideal when you're visiting Iceland.
Lastly, you'll need an outer shell layer. This is the one that's going to protect you against the elements. For this item on your packing list, you're going to need some sort of rain jacket or other waterproof, windproof jacket. Gore-Tex is a really popular brand for this purpose because it both repels liquid and lets water vapor pass through. This waterproof, lightweight fabric is perfect for all types of weather in Iceland.
Best Shoes for Visiting Iceland
Now your clothing is sorted, let’s take a look at what shoes to bring for your trip to Iceland. There are two main types of shoes we recommend wearing for your Iceland holiday, depending upon the time of year.
At a minimum, you’ll definitely want to invest in a good pair of sturdy, waterproof hiking boots. You’ll use these not only in the summertime for hiking, but also when exploring places like Seljalandsfoss waterfall and Vatnajökull National Park at any time of year. Just make sure they have really good traction because you'll probably be stepping on a lot of ice and snow.
You can also bring a pair of snow boots if you're coming in winter to keep your feet warm, cosy and dry. Snow boots tend to be waterproof and insulating with thick soles and uppers to protect your feet.
In addition to these necessary shoes for Iceland, it’s a great idea to also bring a pair of flip-flops if you plan on going to an Icelandic spa or geothermal bath. And don't forget to bring quick dry wool socks – these are sure to come in handy!
Get Ready for Your Adventure in Iceland
Iceland is an amazing place with astounding natural wonders unlike any other place on Earth. You will no doubt have an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime trip when you come to visit. One thing to keep in mind when packing your suitcase is that its otherworldly nature makes Iceland somewhere you really need to prepare for.
It's not everyday that you hike a glacier, visit a volcanic crater lake, or witness the spectacular Northern Lights. Get ready for your trip to Iceland by including all of the items we mentioned in your suitcase, booking your car rental in Iceland and planning your exciting itinerary. Then, you'll be more than ready to take full advantage of everything this beautiful Nordic island has to offer.